Last month, Lancome invited me to go down to Memphis, to visit St. Jude Children Research Hospital (you know, the pioneering pediatric cancer facility?). A handful of editors flew down to participate in Lancome’s annual makeover event with teen patients — thanks to celeb makeup artist Mickey Williams, they all left looking like they were headed for the MTV Awards. It was truly adorable. The girls were beyond excited, and one of them — a baby Katherine Heigl whose Make a Wish was to meet Harry Styles — told me that she felt like if H.S. saw her smokey eyes, he’d have no choice but to take her to prom.
Yep, that was a good day. But the day before, when we toured the hospital, I was a mess. St. Jude pulls out all the stops to make their patients, which range from infants to early twenties, forget that they’re in a hospital, seriously ill. The decorations are plush, beyond — it’s like walking into a Lewis Carroll fantasy crossed with an amusement park. Plus, the patients (and their families) stay in the Target House, a massive apartment building decorated with such artsy-cool dopeness, the editors and I were taking notes on throw pillow placement. Well and good, but I’m a mother. I was the only mother on the trip. While many of the others were immediately able to see the beauty and courage in the kids, the triumph of the human spirt — all I saw was innocent children who might die. And I spent the day in tears.
It’s cliche, and it feels small to write, but being confronted so intimately with children facing life or death obstacles — and doing it with such grace and matter-of-fact optimism (“My medicine makes food taste throw-uppy, but whatever,” said the One Directioner. “My lashes are growing back in!”) — it gets you together real fast.
A week before the trip, I was inconsolable because my novel’s taking too long to write, and my migraines are getting worse, and LINA’S DANCE CLASSES COST $600 THIS SEMESTER. Of course, I do think suffering’s relative, and the “it could always be worse” thing feels unfair and dismissive (if you feel shitty, feel as shitty as you need to feel, and then get over it). But I left Memphis feeling grateful. Grateful that my daughter’s healthy, and grateful that children who aren’t can go to St. Jude — a place that humanizes them, while offering treatments so ground-breaking that have pushed the survival rate for childhood cancer to 80%.
St. Jude survives on charity, and this month, Lancome’s raising money with their fifth annual Genifique Day initiative — i.e., fabulous in-store makeover events all over the country (on the 24th and 25th, they’re donating $7 to the hospital for every bottle of Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Génifique Eye Light-Pearl or Génifique Yeux sold). Plus, Lancome’s asking you to IG or tweet your hands in the shape of a heart, with the hashtag #LancomeGivesBack — and the brand will make a $1 donation in your honor!
If you have a sec, my loves, please send a tweet. It’s an eensy gesture for an enormously important cause. Love you guys.